Gary Doran

Weekly Stat-Pac: Defense Week 6


It’s All About the Score

Stanford is still the shining example of scoring defense in the conference even if they did lose last week. In five games, the Cardinal is giving up only 8.6 points per game. How can a team that stingy on defense lose two out of five games? On the other extreme, there are three teams in the conference that have given up more than 100 points in the second half alone, California, Washington State and Colorado. It’s no coincidence that those same three schools have a combined eight wins and nine losses. Those three schools, along with Utah are the only ones to give up more points in the second half than in the first.


Defense by the Yard

A very big surprise in total yards given up is that California is dead last in the number of yards it allows per game and is leading the North Division. The Bears have given up almost 545 yards per game this season and won four of their contests. In their three conference games, the Bears have given up almost 690 yards per game, and still won two of the games. Another surprise is that the Oregon Ducks have given up more than 435 total yards in four of their five games. At the other end of the spectrum, the Stanford Cardinal leads the conference in allowing only 232.4 yards per game. That’s 100 yards better than the next best team; the Oregon State Beavers.


First Defense

The Stanford Cardinal leads the conference in giving up the fewest number of first downs per game at 14.0. Last week against Notre Dame was the first game in which a Stanford opponent got more than 20 first downs. Even thought it was the most given up by the Cardinal so far this year, it was the second lowest last week of all the other teams except UCLA, who held Utah to 18 first downs. This seems to be a theme, but California is giving up the most first downs at almost 20 per game. The Oregon Ducks give up the next most first downs at 25.2 per game.


Third Time’s a Charm

The USC Trojans are doing the best job at not allowing opponents to convert third downs giving up only a 25.2 percent conversion success rate. That means three out of four times an opponents comes up with a third down, the Trojan defense does not allow a first down then. Oregon is the most generous in the conference in allowing its opponents to convert on almost 45.7 percent of third down situations. Another surprise is that Utah is the next most generous in allowing opponents to convert third downs at a 43.2 percent rate.


TFLs – A Lost Cause

The Utah Utes are now the leader with a TFL every 7.8 plays its opponents run. Stanford is next with a TFL every 8.7 plays, while ASU has jumped into third place with a TFL once every 10.1 plays. The Cal Bears are at the other end getting a TFL only once every 17.0 plays. Last week was ASU’s first double-digit TFL game. It was Utah’s second double-digit TFL game, while UCLA, USC, Stanford, Washington, Cal and Colorado are looking for their first.


Sack It Up

Utah has registered a sack once every 7.2 pass attempts, which leads the conference in that department. Washington is second with a sack once every 9.0 pass attempts, while Stanford is third at 9.4 pass attempts. At the other end of the scale, Cal get a sack only once every 37.1 pass attempts, while UCLA is next with a sack only once every 29.7 attempts. Cal has only registered three sacks in the past three weeks, while at the same time; the Utah Utes have registered 17 sacks.


Turnover Beethoven

Only three teams have caused double-digit turnovers so far this year, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State. Including the bye week, ASU has not caused a turnover since week three of the season, and has only gotten turnovers in two of its five games. In five conference games last week, there were a total of only six turnovers. Good for the conference offenses, but bad for the conference defenses. Stanford lost two turnovers in a non-conference game with Notre Dame.


Red Zoning Out

The Stanford Cardinal has only allowed three red zone touchdowns in five games. The Cardinal defense has also only allowed opponents into its red zone a total of seven times in five games. Both of those stats are pretty darn impressive. This is ASU’s next opponent in a little over a week. Utah has allowed the next fewest trips into its red zone with only eleven in five games, however, the Utes defense has allow nine touchdowns in those eleven trips. They don’t let their opponents in that much, but once inside the Utah twenty yard line, a touchdown is a pretty good bet. Oregon State is similar to Utah, in that it doesn’t allow opponents many trips into the red zone only 14, however, once there, over 78 percent of the times the opponent score a touchdown.



As we wrote last week, good teams and not-so-good teams are beginning to separate in the different defensive categories. Many of the good defensive teams lead in several defensive categories, while the reverse is true of the poorer defensive teams. Next week we will begin to incorporate the Havoc Rate into the defensive side of the Stat-Pac measuring the effective aggressiveness of each defense.

As always, give us feedback on what you like or would like to change about the defensive Stat-Pac graphs. We are open to delivering interesting and meaningful stats to you.

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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